If you are into blogging or a website owner, you are aware of how important SEO is for you. SEO or Search Engine Optimisation refers to the techniques involved in making your site visible to search engines and rank higher enough. In fact, that is how you would get traffic to your site, and monetize it effectively. That would bring up the host of techniques people use to rank higher and have the edge over the competitors. One of the methods used to is Cloaking. Before we move on to explain what is cloaking and how people indulge into it, let us make it clear that it isn’t a good idea as you likely end up in the wrong books of Google if you do. Having said that, we will move ahead to explain what exactly is referred to as Cloaking and how to remove cloaking from SEO report.
Remove cloaking from SEO report
Let’s have a quick introduction to what it is and how one should not indulge in this practice.
What Is Cloaking?
Cloaking is a search engine optimization technique and used to improve the ranking of the site on the search engines. So far so good –but the method comes under the Black Hat SEO, or in simple terms Bad SEO.
The technique involves presenting different content to the search engines than the one offered to the visitors. The method consists in identifying the visitor – whether it is a search engine bot (or crawler or spider as they are referred to) or a human – and presenting a differential content based on the visitor genre. This is done for better indexing. The web server is configured to return different results to the search engine bots than the regular users as a technique to distort the search engine rankings.
Why is Cloaking not recommended?
As you have already understood, Cloaking is illegal as it indulges in the unlawful practice of influencing the search engine rankings. As we stated before, it forms part of Black Hat SEO and illegal in all respects.
How is it done? Well – if you understand the concept of the Internet correctly, you must be aware that the IP address represents every connected device. The web server that serves the pages is configured to deliver the content based on the IP address or the user agent HTTP header of the user who is requesting the page. A module implemented within the .htaccess file works towards making Cloaking possible. If the module detects the IP address or user agent corresponds to search engine, the script on the server delivers a separate URL referred to Cloak URL.
Cloaking is illegal in every respect and can invite the ban on your site, account or the authors who indulge in Cloaking practices. Also, note that Cloaking is an illegal procedure and as such is not allowed. Also, indicate that there is nothing known as White Hat Cloaking. Cloaking is utterly unlawful, and that remains a fact. Cloaking is a trick, and it goes without saying that search engines are not much happy about getting tricked.
Well, there are several techniques used for Cloaking. The search engine crawlers can crawl through the SEO techniques and thus index the pages. Cloaking makes use of this knowledge and thereby ensures that search engines are tricked into ranking higher.
Now that we are interested in removing link cloaking from SEO report, it is necessary to have a good knowledge of the techniques involved in Cloaking which in turn can be helpful to avoid them.
This can be achieved in several ways. Using the same color for the text as the background is one of the conventional technique used for hidden text and links. This technique is used for hiding stuff like keyword stuffing, overwritten content and other valuable information to serve the search engines. There could also be attempts at hiding the text behind an image or changing the font size to zero. A link can also be protected from the users, but visible to the search engines by linking it through a small character like a hyphen or a full stop.
Flash Based Website
Flash content is a no-no for SEO. Several sites have substantial flash content. Instead of going for the option of rewriting the entire website in HTML, they create a page with rich content and serve it to the search engine crawlers.
High HTML Content
As per SEO, the text to HTML ratio needs to be considerably high. That would mean you need to have more content in the form of text than the HTML content. If you are someone who has been into short articles and posts, the ratio would indeed be low. Instead of rewriting the complete site, they try to meet the SEO guidelines through Cloaking.
Even those sites with heavy image content tend to take help from cloaking. If you are aware of how bots work, you should be mindful of these bots cannot have access to images.
What Google Thinks About Cloaking
Cloaking is against Google’s webmaster’s guidelines since it provides differential results to users than what they are expecting. Cloaking is done to improve search engine ranking by misleading the search engines.
Serving different results to the visitors depending upon the user agent is looked upon as treating the site as deceptive, and thus your website can be banned or removed from Google index. In many cases, however, Google does not force heavy penalties. It either creates tagging, supplemental listings or removes content. That way the website owners are given a chance to take the corrective actions.
In any case, you should understand that Cloaking is not an essential concept to get better ranking. It comes under Black Hat SEO technique and something not recommended.
How To Remove Cloaking from your SEO report?
Well, the above discussion should have made you understand how Cloaking is a means of tricking a search engine into ranking your site high. It can have a severe impact on the prospects of your site if you do not take corrective action.
You may also follow the steps indicated here below –
- Use the alt attribute to your images so that it will have descriptive text. Using a caption understandable for human reading would add more value.
- Follow the same guidelines for videos as well. Provide descriptive text for a video in HTML. Offering transcripts can also prove to be more helpful.
Though Cloaking can be helpful in increasing the ranking initially, since search engine bots are regularly updated, you may get caught and lose all your rankings ultimately. In fact, rather than indulging in acts like cloaking, it would be better to focus on producing good content to get better ranking.
Before We Conclude
Well, that should be a little information on what is cloaking and why it should be avoided. We assume we have been able to explain the concept in such way that anyone who has not much technical knowledge can understand it.
Maybe you would ask us whether you should opt for Cloaking. Our answer would be a definite NO. We would indeed not recommend indulging cloaking as it is in complete contradiction to what Google considers legal and ethical. Cloaking amounts to a trick and search engines would never like being tricked into something. Search engines treat all cloaking attempts as part of Black Hat SEO. The concept is treated as illegal, and if your site is found to be indulging in it, your website can be removed from the index altogether.
You should understand that search engines are brighter enough. They change their algorithms and always attempt stopping Cloaking to the maximum possible limit. The algorithms also try avoiding negative user experience.
There is an excellent video from Matt Cutts below for your reference.